Book Nerd Interview
Tracy Leininger Craven loves history and retelling real-life stories in her historical fiction books. She also loves spending her free time in the great outdoors with her husband David and their four children.
I wanted to be an author before I knew how to read or write. I remember sitting in the kitchen with my mother when I was four or five years old and I had a story I wanted to turn into a picture book. I went on to describe a Beatrix Potter style story about a dog on a farm. Since I was too young to write, my mother pulled out a pen and paper and wrote the story as I dictated. I just knew it was worth publishing and that someday I would be an author.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
It stimulates the imagination and cultivates creativity. There is value in retelling true stories because it keeps history alive for future generations. Barbara Leininger and her fellow captive Marie wrote and published their personal narrative, recording in detail their entire captivity and escape. They wrote the names of all the Indian villages, major landmarks, the names of the Indians and other captives that they met along the way. They stated that their goal in writing their own story was not to bring fame to themselves for managing a seemingly impossible heroic escape, but to help and bring hope to other families who had lost children during the Indian raids. Their records that were published in Philadelphia shortly after their return also turned out to be a great piece of historical documentation. It gave me, as the author an incredible glimpse into their life with the Indians, their struggles during captivity, their personal faith in God and how it helped give them the courage to defy all odds and attempt escape. They knew that if they were caught they would be tortured and burned at the stake, an incident they had witnessed when one of their friends attempted escape.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
As a child, I loved the Little House on the Prairie and other books in that series. I always pretended to be Laura.
The Bible as it is the foundation for my faith and a continued inspirational guidance in my spiritual life.
In your book; Alone Yet Not Alone, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
The book is based on the true story of the Leininger sisters, ages 9 and 12, who are captured by Indians during the French and Indian War. Barbara cares for and watches over her little sister the best she can until they are separated and given as slaves to separate Indian tribes. The story follows the extreme trials and adventures of Barbara’s life with the Indians and her desperate attempts to escape and find her little sister. All the while, Barbara wonders if Regina will remember the promise she made the night before they were separated.
What part of Regina did you enjoy writing the most?
I enjoyed describing Regina before her captivity as a carefree, spunky nine-year-old that loved life.
For those who are unfamiliar with Barbara, how would you introduce her?
Barbara is a beautiful teenager that is extremely loyal to her sister, confident in her beliefs, knows what she wants and demonstrated bravery and determination to get it.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
As a mom of three and soon to be four, I have enjoyed getting daily inspiration as we discover together the triumphs and trials of life on our little six acre urban farm. Today, my daughter and I worked on our compost pile and dreamed and talked about the garden we are planning to plant in the spring. This evening I watched a baby chick hatch out of its shell…the miracle of new life. Amazing. My children are a constant inspiration and I love getting ideas from our daily adventures and the funny little quotes they come up with. Though I am currently taking a “maternity leave” from writing, my next project will most likely encourage children’s involvement in urban farming and greener living through fun, interactive, tangible stories.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Regina never married and I always thought that was sad considering the era that she lived in. So, if I had to pick, I would find a male character for her to live happily ever after with. Probably the noble and kindhearted knight, Myles Falworth, from the classic by Howard Pyle, Men of Iron. They may not have lived in the same era, but while we are using our imagination, this problem could be easily fixed.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My husband or one of my best friends from childhood.
What is your favorite room in your home and outside environment?
The family room with our rows of book shelves that frame our fireplace. I love to sit and read with our children in front of the fire during the cold winter evenings.
Which is the hardest thing you ever had to do?
Trying to help someone very dear to me out of an abusive relationship.
Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
My daughter’s first grade teacher.
Who was your first boyfriend?
I was in kindergarten and I guess he didn’t make too big of an impression on me because I don’t even remember his name.
Who was the last person you hugged?
David, the love of my life and husband of 9 years this March.
What is the one, single food that you would never give up?
Chocolate, I think it is definitely an essential in life.
This true story of Barbara and Regina is encouraging and inspiring. The important lesson that even if it seems all is lost, your faith will always be there. The thought of leaving or abandoning is not even considered an option. Even where there was no hope, Barbara firmly stood her ground and her determination was the driving force in trying to reunite with her little sister. Author Tracy provides us with a vivid imagery of a time when life was simple, yet hostile. Her style of storytelling is stunningly beautiful and brings all emotions to the forefront to be felt. It reminds readers that no matter what predicament life may present or how lonely you are, believing in your faith will remind you that you are truly never alone. Alone Yet Not Alone is a moving and tearful true story about how God works in mysterious ways, as described in the events of the sisters’ darkest hour.